Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Jotaf

Alternatives to the HP system?

Recommended Posts

Hi there, I''m sorry if this has been brought up recently before, but I''d really like to know of better alternatives to that over-used idea of hit points. Specifically for an RPG, which is probably going to be partially based on twitch and tactics (but any ideas at all are welcome). If I have different damage for different body parts they still have HP each. Isn''t there a better way?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
but here are one or two.

Can''t die, but game over if some defeat conditions are met (ie. not save the girl) like ICO.

Regenerates health quickly but will die if have several consecutive hits in a short space of time / or shot. No hit points shown. Forbidden Siren.

Regenerates slowly.. can lead to ''sandwich break'' gameplay where you hide and go for a cup of tea til your character is at full health.

Limited regeneration. health regenerates up to a point. ie. 1/3 or 1/4 of your full health. Past this point you need to use some form of healing / shield boosting.


There must be other ideas though. Haven''t seen many action games or RPGs where hit-points aren''t used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Use a fuzzy hp graph like in the fighting system in Shenmue...

That''s just my $0.000000000000000000000002



"TV IS bad Meatwad...but we f***in need it"

If you''re a girl under the age of 12, and you''re high on marijuana...don''t ride your bike. -TRUTH

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
I''ve thought about doing a system where you attempt to model the way the human body works. If you get cut on the arm, you will lose blood. Lose enough blood, you pass out. If you get hit hard on the leg, the leg breaks and you can''t use it.

Yes, this still comes down to some kind of "HP", in that you need something internal to check if a leg is broken or just bruised, but at least the mechanic is hidden from the user.

I like it because it''s a bit more realistic, and you can have more interesting hits than "You are hit for 9 points".

On the flip side, it is complex, and the user may have trouble with the system. Hit points are really easy: when they get low, you''re almost dead. They''re easier to display with a colored bar or numbers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This most certainly has been discussed before, and at great length, but since I''m unable to search up any of the old threads ("HP" isn''t a valid search word), I won''t give you a hard time about asking the question again. If anyone can find links to the older discussions on HP alternatives, then by all means post them for us. In the meantime, I''ve prepared an impromptu dissertation on the topic.

HP is a complex little variable. Obviously, it''s a little strange to see someone getting hit in the face with an axe, losing a few dozen HP, and then continuing to fight at 100% combat effective status. It makes HP look pretty dumb. But HP measures more than just the structural integrity of your skeleton, the durabiilty of your skin, and your character''s tolerance for pain and blood loss.

HP is a stand-in for ideas like James-Bond-luck, clever dodging or blocking, stamina and intestinal fortitude. Two equally matched swordsmen fighting one-on-one might not hit each other for a long time, but every attack will wear at them just a little bit. Dodging, blocking, and otherwise engaging in physical confrontation cannot be maintained indefinitely, and HP reflects that human finitude. Even if there''s no way that a guy could walk up and stick a knife in you, that doesn''t mean that you can stand there and dodge or block that guy''s knife forever. So a sword wound that does ten HP of damage isn''t necessarily a wound at all. Maybe that character isn''t even bleeding until they hit 0 HP, at which point the very next blow slides between their ribs and snuffs them.

That is a possible starting point for HP. With PnP RPGs, it''s a pain in the butt to do all the math for things like stamina, parries, and such and such. So instead they used a single variable, called "hit points" to determine whether and how hard you got hit. With computers and their nearly limitless calculative powers, designers have begun to model these other events. Sometimes in FF6 a little shield will appear in front of your character and no damage will be done, or a sword will flash out to parry the blow. These events are mae redundant by the persistence of the HP meter. They are simulating an event that the HP already models, and so the character gets two ways to enact the same defensive maneuver.

That is not the only example of such a redundancy. Many games have started to show things like blows and dodges, and by doing so they have turned Hp into a simple energy meter, shwing how much fuel the character has in their tank. Now, what once was a character dodging an arrow has become that same character deflecting it with his iron skin, his magnetic shield. He is unscathed by the blade or bludgeon, and the only evidince that the attack took place at all is the decrease in voltage to the magical aura that protects him from bodily harm. This is nonsense.

So far, games have featured modifications of the HP system. HP has been the centerpiece, and things like parries, ripostes and evasions have been added in as additional tweaks or features. HP has formed the body of the damage system and a new framework of skill-based defenses and reactions has been constructed around it. This framework, this new model, is so close to completion that we can remove the HP fossil and let it stand on its own, adding or subtracting features and elements to make it stronger, faster, and more elegant than the thing it replaces.

Now that characters use sword and shield to turn blows, and can evade of their own accord, HP has become a relic, an anachronism. We don''t need to replace HP with some other number. HP has already been replaced by a large constellation of possibilities and mathematical algorithms. All we need to do now is remove the vestigial system and set about balancing the replacements. Take out HP and adjust the probabilities associated with dodging, blocking and absorbing to fill its role more completely.

That''s the new HP system. It''s already there, veiled behind the corpse of its ancestor. We don''t need to build it; it''s already built. We need only chip away the chrysalis of petrified HP to discover it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I disagree that HP needs to be replaced. I think having a single guage is a tremedous advantage for the player, rather than having to go to a menu and lookup the individual body parts to see how damaged they are. What can be done is to offer different insights into how HP is used.

For instance, if HP is a variable between 0 and 20, and the average hit does between 5 and 10, then HP is a crucial and critical number for the player to manage

Another, is that HP could be a sum of all of the body part''s HPs, and depending on how the player is hit, different parts lose that HP, but the main sum is still visible to the player at all times. When a part has hit 0HP, a status effect drops on the player, like inability to dodge from the left, or whatnot.

And third is to have a secondary HP meter dropped on top, like Protoss Shields (starcraft). It recovers quickly, but the main HP never does. This puts the demand on the player to not screw up when the secondary meter is low.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I quite like the system used by UFO - Enemy Unknown.

It was essentially a HP system but with some important modifications:

- Each part of the body was handled separately
- Being hit in different places had different effects. Being hit on the legs would slow you down, hands would decrease fire accuracy etc
- It had the concept of "fatal wounds" - these would cause the soldier to die unless he had medical attention soon.
- You could not entirely recover HP during a battle, but medikits could cure fatal wounds and partially recover HP
- Being wounded also affects the soldier''s morale (makes him more likely to panic) and makes him more likely to succumb to being unconcious (from smoke inhalation, for example)
- Being unconcious happened when the HP got below a certain point anyway. However the nice friendly aliens never attacked your men as they lay bleeding on the floor; they patiently waited to be killed off so their mates could come and rescue them. Fortunately it was fairly unlikely to shoot soldiers on the floor by accident (grenades could easily kill them though)

Fully recovering hit points was always possible, but in some cases could take months (of game time). During this time the soldier still needed wages paying (and frequently got promoted to a higher rank if he was useful in battle). Injured personnel could not be delpoyed.

This all works well in a turn-based game where you have plenty of time to think about what to do. It would not be so hot in a realtime game, as it could be a lot too complicated for the player to figure out.

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You could use an injury system. Each hit causes an injury each injury has an effect. The invetibale result of to many injurires is death.

For instance your hit buy a sword slash and the injury you recive is a cut. A cut cause you to lose a point of blood each round. If you lose 10 points of blood you suffer the injury stage one blood lose, which causes -1 strength.

Injuries would stacks so getting hit 4 times by a sword might result in 2 cuts, a missing ear and stab through the stomach.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think a single, simple modification to the ''standard'' HP system that would be interesting would be to make HP static. In other words, you start with X HP and you don''t magically get more each level. At best, you might get an extra HP every 10 or 15 levels, but it would be a miniscule difference instead of the huge leaps and bounds HP take in many RPG games.

To compensate for that change, you''d need many other variables to take the place of what HP used to represent (which IMO was too much). You''re definitely going to need armor (be it plate mail or ceramic anti-ballistics) to be important, and you''ll probably want some kind of stamina stat to track characters getting tired from too much fighting without rest and the like. Next, you''ll need to add support for actually blocking/parrying blows with you sword/shield/etc. You''d probably need a few more variables as well, representing luck/''karma'' and things like that.

More complex, but I think its a better system where a good sword hit can take just about anybody down (the key is to not get hit through deflecting/doding/parying/blocking/luck). It would probably be boring for most people though since they want to see blood and action rather than just 50000 parries (though you could try to make it feel like hollywood swordfights).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Extrarius
I think a single, simple modification to the ''standard'' HP system that would be interesting would be to make HP static. In other words, you start with X HP and you don''t magically get more each level. At best, you might get an extra HP every 10 or 15 levels, but it would be a miniscule difference instead of the huge leaps and bounds HP take in many RPG games.

To compensate for that change, you''d need many other variables to take the place of what HP used to represent (which IMO was too much). You''re definitely going to need armor (be it plate mail or ceramic anti-ballistics) to be important, and you''ll probably want some kind of stamina stat to track characters getting tired from too much fighting without rest and the like. Next, you''ll need to add support for actually blocking/parrying blows with you sword/shield/etc. You''d probably need a few more variables as well, representing luck/''karma'' and things like that.

More complex, but I think its a better system where a good sword hit can take just about anybody down (the key is to not get hit through deflecting/doding/parying/blocking/luck). It would probably be boring for most people though since they want to see blood and action rather than just 50000 parries (though you could try to make it feel like hollywood swordfights).
I agree with this. I definitely go for static HP. You start with 100 HP and that''s your HP for the rest of the game. However, you also have other points to help you out in battles, and these points are the indicator that you get stronger. More stamina, better dodge skill, higher accuracy, higher chance of making a powerful blow, the effectiveness of using shield, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Do computer RPG'ers even play any PnP RPG's anymore?

Not meaning to knock anyone, but there's a whole wealth of game design theory and ideas for the roleplaying world already out there in the form of pen and paper RPG's.

Hit Points are a very archaic form of modeling damage that generally is not used anymore.

One system I'm currently working on deals damage on many levels (and this is something I'd only do for a computer based or aided game design). It has the following elements:

Integrity: Measures the structural damage of an object. Example, broken bones, torn ligaments, stress fractures in hull
Shock: Measures the systemic reaction to system failures. For example, going unconscious, cardiac arrest or having a core dump
Critical: Measures damage to systems which are traumatic to the nature of the system. For example, direct hits to heart, brain, poison, fuel or ammo hits
Support: subsystems which are not immediately system threatening but which can be. Example: Blood loss, hunger
Neurologic/Control: Measures the disruption of neurological or I/O processing systems. Example: Pain, disorientation, access problems
Neuromotor/PowerTrain: Measures the disruption of the pathway to motor capability. Example: Paralysis, nerve damage, steering or axle damage.
Fatigue: Loss of Physical Output
Will/NA: Loss of Mental Output

Other than integrity, all Status Systems are systemic...they are not location specific (but rather effect specific). Integrity however is measured location by location. Notice that my system is intended as an abstracted and generic damage system that works for both animate and inanimate objects (which is why you see the slash, and another term).

Each Status System carries with it some consequences to the object. For example, for the Integrity Status, if a certain threshold is reached, that part of the object is no longer functional at all. At slightly lesser points, performance using the damaged part will carry a penalty. For example, if you break your arm, you can't really use it can you? But if you just sprain it, you can use it, but not very well.

Also, the system is not ablative or entirely cumulative. The different systems are based off of different traits. For example, in a human, the Integrity is normally measured by the character's Health and mass, Shock by his Health, and Neurologic by his Focus. When damage is inflicted, it's rating is compared to the target's appropriate Trait, and a Damage Level is calculated. If the same system is hit again, the new damage is not totally cumulative. For example, if you are already heavily in pain, then stubbing your toe is going to send you over the edge into unconsciousness. Anything under half the highest damage done is ignored, and if it is over half, then half of the new damage is applied [ in pseudo code....if( Damage*.5 <= Wound Level) then Wound Level = Wound Level; else Wound Level += .5Damage ]

Anyways, hopefully this gives you ideas. Hit Points are not just unrealistic, they also detract from the game experience. Moreover, I've found in my roleplaying games that hiding the quantitative wound level from the players makes combat much more interesting. Hit points tell you nothing about different damage effects (like being stunned, or being in pain), they tell you nothing about whether something is broken or not, they tell you nothing about blood loss, and saying that you slit someone across the throat means nothing in a HP based system.



[edited by - dauntless on March 30, 2004 4:38:20 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I always liked the bushido blade system. Have know idea how it worked inside but if you managed to hit someone in the head with your sword you killed them. It really was great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I like the idea of using a percentage to represent your physical condition. You could use that as an overall effectiveness modifier, perhaps tying it into stamina or endurance, while individual injury events would adjust things like dexterity or speed.

The problem with accurately modelling injury and stat penalties is that players have become used to surviving gunshot wounds and axe blows. I remember a huge outpouring of rancor when Rainbow Six offered one-hit kills on both sides of the fight. Especially in an environment of fantasy and whimsy, you will seriously harm the "hero" feeling if you let some jerk with a knife slit an uberPaladin''s throat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
An advantage of HP is simplification. Unless you develop a way to make the player know his complete status(unless you don''t want him to) without looking away from the center of the screen you maybe should stick to a single variable.

I know its tiring and feels old, but old doesn''t means that it isn''t still good.

A complex system like the one Dauntless proposes could be nice but definitly not always. I would get tired of so many variables to count if every game was totally realistic.

So there are alternatives to the HP system but that one is just the most widely known. I tought the same way before comming to this forum Even tought I don''t know why big game companies don''t use different systems more often, they should.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Having at-a-glance status reports is critical in an FPS or other action genre, but in an RPG it might be less essential to the gameplay. After all, if you can manage to model injuries in such a way that a player can "take inventory" by looking at either the character or a simple graphic (The Urban Terror mod for Quake 3 springs to mind), then you''ll still have all the pertinent information readily available.

In fact, in the context of an RPG, I''d rather be able to say, "Okay, my guy has an axe wound to the left leg and his ribs are bruised up pretty badly, but he can still swing a sword pretty well and his healing talisman will have him running again in about twelve seconds," than to say, "He''s got 476 HP left." Accurate wound modelling can make an RPG character even more immersive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with Iron Chef Carnage.

Damage should be revealed to the player only as a subjective rating. Afterall, when you are injured or sick, do you exactly know how much health you have? If you do, you can sure save a lot on doctors visits by just not going when you know its not serious.

It''s far more interesting to only give players visceral or experiential clues as to how much damage they''ve taken. The pain meter can let them know how much pain they are in...but pain isn''t always a good measure of how close someone is to death (as anyone who''s stubbed their pinky toe can attest). And it''s quite possible to have internal bleeding and not know it till you go into shock. Broken bones are usually obvious, as are gaping wounds or open cuts. Poison isn''t obvious, nor are certain kinds of neurological damage. Hence why I''ve created my damage system the way I have so that it models how damage affects players, and also determines how a player can gauge how much damage he''s taken.

Hence all the more need to get to a Doc when you''ve taken damage, just to make sure. If there''s one thing I hate, it''s players thinking they can keep attacking because they know exactly how much life they have left.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks everyone for your replies =)
There are LOTS of good ideas there.

Iron Chef Carnage, there''s one thing about your reply. I''m not sure if today''s systems are that good... I mean, all they have is some probabilities, and most of them aren''t even half decent, for example I never saw a game where a line of spearmen has the advantage that it should have (you try charging one of those with a sword or some other weapon shorter than the enemies'' spears - you''d get impaled before even getting close). But you''re absolutely right that we should put the processing power and knowledge we now have to good use.

I had this thought when reading Coz''s comment about Dauntless''s system having too many variables. In RPGs you usually have status reports of everything and know all the risks and probabilities of success or failure. It occured to me that a real adventurer wouldn''t have anything like this. It''s really cool when a hero in a movie, being very experienced in battle, can say if they have a chance against the enemy or not, if someone is going to survive a wound, etc. He''s not counting HPs. He uses his intuition mixed with some rational thought. Both of them were learned slowly after countless battle situations. This is done unconsciously most of the time, and it''s how people get better at anything they put an effort to. By having a simple, linear system like an HP gauge you take away the possibility for the human brain to analize patterns and crack the code. What do you think?

(I''ll reply again when I read some other posts more carefully)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmm... I'm going to try to summarize all of this in a kind of a pseudo-system. This is how all of these ideas (and a few of mine too) could get together in a real game it's just cuz I like to keep things organized, and to make further comments easier.

- Stamina, lost with each wound and every attack or defence move. If defence takes a lot of stamina, it would be like, by constantly attacking an opponent, you'd wear him down, until he has no energy left and starts making mistakes when defending.

- A simple counter for blood loss. Small wounds would not increase this at all (wounds that don't lose a significant amount of blood). It's commulative, I guess that 2 medium wounds lose as much blood as a big one. Maybe another counter would slowly decrease according to the blood loss, after a threshold the character passes out, and after another he/she dies?

- Integrity, for each body part. When this is lost in some parts some obvious stuff happen, like losing conscious from a knock to the head, or walking slowly from a broken bone in the leg. I read somewhere (an RPG forum I think) that you can still use an arm or a leg with some slashes, it's impossible only if there's a broken bone or really serious cut (so inability to walk or use a weapon only happens after some serious damage).

- Consciousness? This would decrease with the pain from wounds (some could be particularly more painful than others), knocks to the head, and occasionaly from other stuff like poisoning/drugs. After a certain treshold the character is "stunned" and doesn't perform moves as well (maybe sometimes it wouldn't immediately obey some commands), this could happen more often as the consciousness level decreases. After another treshold the character is unconscious.

I'm sure this is missing some stuff. Maybe stuff like poison or burns could have their own special counters for each character, I dunno. Just the non-fatal combat (losing consciousness) brings up a lot of possibilities, like different tactics and battle moves - and you don't exactly have to kill someone and risk being hanged just to steal his gold stuff like that. Blood loss makes bandages and first-aid very important right after a big battle. Stamina would be a kind of a "shield" that must be worn down until one starts to really hit the other guy. Lots of interesting situations =)

Also, how would a system like this be displayed? I'd love to see a game that displays the individual wounds of each character in the character model's skin, but maybe that's a bit too far away. I don't like numbers, bars are ok. Would it be better if there's a bar for each counter? Or a kind of an "overal status" bar?

[EDIT] Forgot to say, I agree that these stats don't increase like 10 times with character development, and that it would be interesting to see a system that doesn't use counters or keeps track of every wound like TechnoGoth said. Dauntless suggested that a wound smaller than half the biggest wound is ignored, this goes well with any system, it seems interesting maybe there's more to this. Iron Chef Carnage, we can't always stick to what the players are used to and what everyone else is doing, game companies close down all the time because they make carbon copies of each others' games

[edited by - Jotaf on April 1, 2004 1:10:00 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just a small comment on this, but little scratches should count somewhat. I mean, I''m sure we''ve all heard of the Death of a Thousand Cuts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think staminia being a shield is good. Rather I prefer to think of stamina as fuel. Each move performed reduces stamania, every hit also reduces stamina. There would also be an endurance threshold when stamina drops below this threshold the characters performance drops. So the character has 100 max stamina, a threshold of 50 and current stamina is 25. Meaning the character's performace is only at 50%, they are dodging slower, their hits a weaker, and so on.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I'm a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave


[edited by - TechnoGoth on April 1, 2004 2:13:29 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Jotaf
Also, how would a system like this be displayed? I'd love to see a game that displays the individual wounds of each character in the character model's skin, but maybe that's a bit too far away.



Not really. Updating a skin can be done quickly with a render-to-texture operation. The only significant cost I can think of, is having to store a separate skin for every character, but unless you are planning hordes of similar-looking enemies, that shouldn't be a problem.

Losing limbs and such isn't a problem either. (I've modeled and programmed it myself, although not with models of real humans.)

[edited by - EasyRaider on April 1, 2004 4:26:43 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
health points
life points
alive points
power points

geez dude, use your brain there must be a million different things you can use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You''ll find an excellent study of damage and health systems here: http://bay12games.com/armok.htm

It''s just a semi-workable tech demo at the moment, but the level of damage modelling is enjoyably ridiculous. Ever wondered what''d happen if you used a teleportation spell to tear out a man''s kidneys, or flayed the skin from a rabbit? Armok will tell you!

NOTE: I pre-emptively nominate anyone pointing out that the game is ugly, or confusing, or unfinished for a I''m Really Good At Stating The Obvious Award. I know it''s a mess. Your task is to realise why it''s a very interesting mess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NecroMage: You''re right, but it''s one of those realistic stuff that really wouldn''t matter. It would be very hard for that to happen in the game and even if it did, it wouldn''t really add much

I said that stamina could be a kind of a shield because I don''t wanna reduce the combat system to just making moves like a combat game or (worse) make it heavily based on probabilities/randomness. The shield in Halo added a lot of strategy simply because it was not linear like most shields in games (I can tell you how it works, it''s really simple) so I thought it would be a nice feature. I dunno, there must be so much more to combat than that... do we really have to find a combat expert to have interesting combat in games? =P I was thinking about a way to elaborate on that concept of stamina as fuel (a valuable "resource" in combat), but maybe that''s a bit off-topic?

And I think that the reason why games don''t model wounds is not because of the technology, it''s because it would make players realize the obvious: that characters can run around with huge scars in their heads and still move like they''re ok =)

Super Foul Egg those guys are kinda sick =p they wanna have stuff like ripping someone''s intestines out and using them to strangle someone. Whenever someone is hit in the chest, it''s safe to assume that there''s some probability that it hits a vital organ or that it misses completely. There''s no need to get into more gory details BTW I read everything on that site and I couldn''t find anything that isn''t neatly abstracted by most of the ideas in this post.

Hmm I had this thought... About character performance dropping after some threshold. Instead of having a threshold, a kind of an exponential function (like a^b) could be used to figure out the probability of failure based on damage taken (like there would be a higher probability of missing an attack if there''s arm damage, low stamina, low consciousness...). So there would be a kind of a "safe zone" for all of these variables, after that it is more and more likely that the character will not do things right. Would this work?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites